Coconut Vegetable Dhal Soup (v)

We eat a lot of soup. It’s tasty, nourishing and you can hide all sorts in it. This used up some leftover sweet potatoes and some sad celery as well as delivering a nutritional hit from the red lentils. Freeze some if you have leftovers. It’s a warm and comforting hug in a bowl.

Coconut Vegetable Dhal Soup

For six portions you need:

  • 1 swede, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced
  • 3 sticks celery, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1-1.5 litres vegetable stock (more or less depending on how thick you want the soup)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • Toasted mixed seeds
  • Fresh coriander
  1. Begin by sautƩing the vegetables in the oil for 5-10 mins.
  2. Add the lentils and curry powder and mix well.
  3. Add the coconut milk and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 20 mins.
  4. Blitz the soup with a stick blender, season to taste and serve garnished with the seeds and coriander.

Hoisin Vegetable and Tofu Stirfry with Quinoa (v)

I had planned to do a vegetable and rice noodle salad with crispy tofu.  But it was too cold for salad. So I stir fried it all instead, serving with a mound of light fluffy quinoa instead of rice as it’s quicker to cook and I prefer it. 

For three generous portions you need

  • 1 pack cauldron firm tofu
  • 1.5 cups (American Rob) quinoa
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • 3 cups of cold water
  • 2 onions
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 pack edamame beans
  • Tenderstem broccoli 
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 
  • 1″ ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  1. Begin by cutting the tofu into strips. Press down into a clean tea towel to squeeze out the excess water. Cut into bite sized pieces
  2. Heat the oil in a wok until very hot. Add the tofu and cook for 5-10 mins over a hot heat until brown and starting to crisp. 
  3. Meanwhile place the quinoa, water and stock into a lidded pan.  Bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce the heat and leave to cook for 8-10 mins until the quinoa has cooked. Turn off the heat and leave the lid on to steam the quinoa until you’re ready to eat it. 
  4. Once the tofu is browned add the onions, chillies, ginger and garlic. Cook for 2-3 mins and then add the remaining vegetables. Add the hoisin and soya sauces and cover with a lid.
  5. Reduce the heat and leave to steam fry for 2-3 mins until the vegetables are al dente and covered in the lovely dark sauce.
  6. Serve with the quinoa. Attempt to eat with chopsticks. Manage three mouthfuls before giving up and using a fork šŸ™‚ 

Dairy Free Peanut Butter Brownies


I’ve long wondered what peanut butter brownies taste like, and now I know. These are a doddle to make – done and dusted in underĀ 45 mins. Not bad for a work night when you’ve run out of cake and need a chocolate hit quick stat! They’re very rich so eat is small pieces! The original recipe is hereĀ but I’ve tweaked the method, mainly because I didn’t read it properly but they don’t seem to have suffered for it…

For 16 squares you need

  • 225g peanut butter
  • 200g plain chocolate
  • 280g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g plain flour

Gently heat the chocolate,Ā peanut butter and sugar in a pan until gloopy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time then add the flour. Scrape into a lined brownie tin and bake at 175 degrees for 25-30 mins. You want a serious amount of goo left in the middle once cooked as they’ll firm up on cooling.

Cut into 16 squares and devour. They’re especially nice served warm with raspberry sorbet.

Tiger Striped Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake

Lex requested marble cake for his lunch box last week and I’d been meaning to try out a tiger cake following the recent craze for them created by Lorraine Pascale. So I used her method for creating the stripes in my own normal victoria sponge cake base. It worked really well but I have to say was a right faff and took forever to splodge into the tin. The things mums do to make their children happy eh šŸ˜‰

For one cake that serves 8-10 people you need
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract, added to the egg jug for easier mixing
8oz self raising flour
8oz caster sugar
8oz vegan spread (e.g. vitalite)
1-2 tbsp soya milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder mixed with 1 tbsp boiling water

Make the cake base the usual way: place the spread and sugar into a free standing mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on high for 10 mins until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and flour on slow speed.

Once the batter is made, divide into two bowls. Add the cocoa powder liquid to one bowl and mix thoroughly. Add enough milk to the vanilla bowl to make the batter the same consistency as the chocolate batter.

In a greased 20cm cake tin, place alternating spoonfuls of the batters into the middle. Start with vanilla, then place a spoonful of the chocolate batter directly on top of the splodge of vanilla batter. Keep repeating and the batter will start to spread out into the tin. It is this process which gives the cake its stripes. It will take 10 mins or so to carefully and patiently use up all the mix. It is vital the batters are the same consistency or one will spread too much and the other will be too thick.

Once all the batter is in the tin (andĀ congratulationsĀ if you did it properly and didn’t give up at the end like me and lob spoonfuls anywhere in the tin towards the end šŸ˜‰ bake in a moderate (160 degree) oven for 30-45 mins until the cake is risen and cooked. Leave to cool and then slice and marvel at the petty pwatterns on the inside of the cake.

Probably The Most Awesome Vegan Pie Ever (v)

OK, OK, I am feeling rather smug after tonight’s dinner marvel, but it was delicious. Really, really delicious. And it was also very easy to make, and used up some of the veg that has been looking sadly up at me from the bottom of the fridge for the last week. Because it’s vegan, there’s no cream in the recipe, just some soya milk which makes a lovely creamy sauce. And this makes it a healthy choice too if you’re watching the calories, what more do you need to convince you to try it šŸ˜‰

For 4-6 portions you need
1 sheet puff pastry, rolled out to .5cm thickness
1 leek, finely sliced
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2-3 parsnips, ditto the carrots
4-5 mushrooms cut into chunky slices
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1/2 pint soya milk plus a little extra for glazing the top of the pie
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp stock powder
2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsely
salt and pepper

Begin by sauteeing the vegetables in the oil in a large pan. Cover with a lid and allow the veggies to steam fry for 5 mins or so. Remove the lid and increase the heat a little to evaporate off the mushroom juices.

Sprinkle over the flour and stock powder and allow to cook out. Add the mustard and slowly add the soya milk until it’s all absorbed and the sauce is nicely thickened. Season and add the parsley.

Place the vegetables and sauce in a pie dish. Put the puff pastry on the top and seal the edges. You don’t have to use a pie funnel but it will help to cook the inside out if you have one and prevent a soggy pastry lid. Crimp the edges of the pie and brush the top with a little extra soya milk.

Bake the pie in a hot (180 degree) oven for 30-40 mins until the pastry is golden, crispy and cooked through. Serve with baby jacket potatoes, steamed cauliflower and lashings of yummy gravy. Nomtastic.

Double Chocolate Banana Cake (v)

This is an adaptation of Nigella’s banana bread from her Domestic Goddess book. I got so sick of making the plain banana cake as although lots of my friends and family liked it, I wasn’t that keen (unless I was eating the raw batter!). However, the addition of chocolate to it makes it utterly delicious. Why I haven’t made this one before is beyond me, but I have now, and so must you šŸ™‚

For 2 x 2lb loaf cakes you need
6 very ripe bananas, mashed to a puree
25g cocoa powder
100g sultanas
75ml southern comfort (or other booze of your choice)
150g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarb
100ml sunflower oil
150g caster sugar
100g plain chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preferably soak the sultanas in the booze overnight, but if you’re short of time, place in a saucepan and heat gently then leave to speed soak for 15-30 mins.

Mix everything together and scrape into two lined loaf tins. Bake in a moderate (170 degree) oven for 45-60 mins until the cakes are risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool. Eat with copious cups of tea.

Nigella’s Olive Oil and Almond Chocolate Cake (GF)

I got Nigellissima earlier in the week (think I might have already mentioned that…) and saw this in it as I was idly flicking through the pages. So I made it. It’s d-i-v-i-n-e. Moist. Sticky. Gooey. So very very chocolatey. Utterly delicious in other words. Make it, you won’t be disappointed.

For 8 greedy slices you need
For the cake
150ml olive oil
50g cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
2 tsp vanilla
150g ground almonds
1/2 tsp gluten free baking power *or* 1/4 tsp bicarb of soda and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
3 eggs

For the icing you need
75g vegan spread
150g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder

Begin by mixing the boiling water into the cocoa powder till it’s smooth. Add the vanilla to it and leave to cool.

Place the eggs, oil and sugar in to the bowl of a free standing mixer and beat on full for three minutes until fluffy and thickened.

Slowly drizzle in the cocoa mixture. Once this is added, add in everything else and mix gently to a smooth batter (it will be very wet, don’t worry).

Scrape into aĀ siliconeĀ baking mould and bake in a moderate (170 degree) oven for about 45 mins. The outside should be cooked through and the middle moist when it’s done. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Turn onto a wire rack once cool enough to handle.

Whip the vegan spread, icing sugar and cocoa together until light, fluffy and creamy. Spread on to the top and sides of the cooled cake and finish with a dusting of cocoa powder. Enjoy!

Banana Toffee Cheesecake (dairy free)

This is in Nigella’s new book Kitchen. She describes it as a way to use up leftover over-ripe bananas and I decided to use up the dregs of the biscuit tin too and some vegan cream cheese that had just been sitting the the fridge looking sad. Whilst the cheesecake is dairy free, it does contain eggs and is therefore not vegan, obviously… and the sauce contains cream and butter. This recipe was also an opportunity to try out my new silicon cake tin i.e. one that won’t ooze wet cheesecake mix out the bottom or need lining with clingfilm/baking parchment. Quite how I remove it from the tin is another matter!!

For 10-12 portions you need:

For the base:
250g mixed biscuits (I used a mixture of royal danish butter and ginger)
75g unsalted butter, softened

For the cheesecake:
4 overripe medium bananas
60ml lemon juice
700g vegan cream cheese
6 eggs
150g light soft brown sugar

For the toffee sauce:
100g unsalted butter
125ml golden syrup
75g light soft brown sugar

You also need a 23cm springform tin or I used a 21cm silicon tin.

Start with the base. Blitz the biscuits with the butter in a food processor till it’s come together. Press into the tin and chill in the fridge.

Mash the bananas with the lemon juice. Nigella says to use a fork but frankly life is too short so use a potato masher instead and be done in a quarter of the time…

In the cleaned food processor, lob in the cream cheese and blitz. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the sugar and then the bananas and lemon juice. Mix well till smooth.

Pour the batter on to the base and bake in a moderate (160 degree) oven for about 1hr 15 mins. Remove and leave to cool then chill over night.

For the toffee sauce melt everything together then boil for 2-3 mins till light golden brown and bubbly. Leave to cool.

Serve the cheesecake drizzled with the sauce with more sauce on the side for greedy buggers like me. Yum yum yum.

Curried Eggs

You can use any tomato based curry sauce for this. Basically what you want is something spicy, slightly sour and sloppy to contrast with the eggs. It’s nice with just naan or some rice too. It’s also good cold the next day for breakfast (honest).

For 4 portions you need:

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 inch piece of ginger, grated
2 tsp tumeric
1 whole chilli
2 dried whole chillies, rubbed together to loosen the seeds
6 eggs, semi hard boiled (7 mins)
2 tbsp oil
4 cardamon pods, crushed
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
350 ml water
300g peeled potatoes, cut into small dice (or any other veg you fancy tbh, peas are nice too)
chopped corriander

Begin by frying the onion in the oil then add the spices, potatoes, chillies, garlic and ginger. Cook for 5 mins or so. Then add the toms and the sliced onion and water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins till the sauce is thicken and the potatoes are cooked. Add a little more water if you need to. Peel the eggs and cut in half. After the potato is cooked, add the halved eggs and heat through gently. Serve topped with the chopped corriander.

Steamed eggs with rice noodles and vegetables

This was my lunch today (Lex had his lunchbox as normal!).

For the eggs you need (per person):
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 mushrooms, sliced
handful chopped corriander
glug soya sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
ground pepper
1/2 onion, finely diced

Mix together and pour everything into a small heatproof bowl. Place in a steamer and steam for about 20 mins till cooked.

For the noodles and vegetables:
Soak 1 bundle of rice noodles per person in boiling water for about 5 mins.

Meanwhile stirfry some veggies (I used courgettes, onion, chinese leaf and sugar snap peas). Add some mirin and soya sauce to the pan to taste. Add the noodles once rehydrated and warm through. Serve with the eggs on the side.